Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Bronx Bombers are back

OK, the big dogs are back. You didn't think Pittsburgh would wax the Yankees every night, did you? They'll duke it out for bragging rights tomorrow night.

Joba Chamberlain was all that, with a mid-to-upper 90s heater that moves and a sweet curve to go with it. Zach Duke didn't pitch as badly as his line shows.

If Jack Splat makes a couple of plays for him, he gets away with giving up one run. But that's the way of the world with Duke - he needs airtight D, and didn't get it tonight.

Still, he kept it a game until TJ Beam left the corral gate open. Hey, payback's a beach. Each team's scored a KO with one bout to go.

On the Pirate front: The Bucs picked up RHP Denny Bautista, 27, from the Tigers. He was their set up man after returning from the DL in late May (shoulder tendinitis), and had an 0-1 record, 3.21 ERA, and 4 holds. Bautista should fit right in with Pittsburgh; in 19 innings, he struck out 10 and walked 14.

He was DFA'ed to make room for Joel Zumaya.

Overall, the Dominican has pitched for Baltimore, KC, Colorado and Detroit. Bautista's lifetime ERA is 6.42. He's started 21 times in his MLB career, and what the Pirates plan to do with him is anyone's guess.

Bautista's the Buc's kind of project, throwing in the mid-90's, and could slide into any one of several pitching roles, from the back end of the pen to spot starter, ala Shawn Chacon.

Kevin Thompson was waived injured (his wrist was operated on recently) to clear up a spot on the 40-man roster (Jason Michaels sealed his fate), and there will be no word on who goes home on the 25 man roster until at least after tonight's game.

Detroit got 23 year-old RHP Kyle Pearson, Lynchburg's closer, in return. He was highly thought of in 2003 when he was drafted as a high school kid in the 4th round. Pearson was 13-27 with 12 saves and a 4.95 ERA in the Pirate's minors.

He was 1-1 with 4 saves and a 6.75 ERA this year, and he didn't seem to figure much in Pittsburgh's future after he was demoted from Altoona to the Hillcats. Pittsburgh converted him from a starter to the bullpen; maybe the Tigers will reverse the process.

> RF Xavier Nady, out since June 14 because of a bruised left shoulder, could be cleared to play tonight after a full batting practice session yesterday. If he's not ready, he's close. The X-Man's been gone 11 days, so not putting him on the DL ended up pretty much a wash but for possibly three or four games.

> JVB pitched, and none too well, for Indy last night. That should take him out of the Tampa Bay pitching sweepstakes, though. Ty Taubenheim, Jimmy Barthmaier, and Yoslan Herrera look like the candidates.

Unless the Bucs have something up their sleeve. Bautista hasn't started in a couple of years, and Sean Burnett is the long man, but either one of them starting would save them a move on the 25-man roster, especially if they were the Saturday fill-in for Ian Snell...just thinkin' out loud.

They're all on the 40-man roster already, so that won't be a consideration. There will have to be moves made on the 25-man roster, though, for a minor league call-up.

Jenifer Langosch of says her sources tell her Friday's starter will be Jimmy Barthmaier, and he is the logical choice to take Phil Dumatrait's spot in the rotation.

We'll see soon what they do to cover Saturday's start. Herrara's pitched well in AA, and the Buc's liked what they saw of Taubenheim in the spring. Or they could try to cobble together nine innings from the current roster.

On the minor league front: Altoona had some nice performances last night. LHP Corey Hamman (4-6, 3.15) pitched 8 scoreless innings and allowed 3 hits.

CF Chris Duffy hit his first home run and went 2 for 4. His average in now .286. 2B Shelby Ford, who's batting .327, hit his first home run and went 2 for 5 with a double. 1B Jason Delaney went 3 for 5 with a double and 4 RBIs, and he has a .296 average.

> A couple of Hickory's big sticks kept mashing last night. C Andrew Walker hit his fifth and sixth home runs and went 4 for 5 with three RBIs. His average is up to .280 after a forgettable start to the season. 3B Bobby Spain hit his fifth home run and went 4 for 5 with 2 home runs, lifting his average to .312.

> Third round draft pick SS Jody Mercer had a big day at State College, homering, doubling, and driving home a pair as the DH.

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